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Common Football Injuries & Prevention Tips

The NFL season has just started, and already in its 5th week, the season has become injury-ridden. Football is a rough contact sport, so it’s not too surprising to see players injured on the field. It’s also one of the most popular sports played by young athletes, and it leads all other sports in the number of injuries sustained. In 2016, more than 920,000 athletes under the age of 18 were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics for football-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This past Sunday, we saw NFL players like JJ Wyatt endure a tibial plateau fracture, and Odell Beckham Jr. fracture his ankle, both leading to Season-ending surgeries with eventual Physical Therapy treatment. Traumatic, and Overuse injuries such as these can happen due to the high speed and full contact made from player to player each game.

Traumatic Injuries:

Knee injuries in football are the most common, especially those to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) and to the menisci (cartilage of the knee). These knee injuries can adversely affect a player’s long-term involvement in the sport. Football players also have a higher chance of ankle sprains due to the surfaces played on and cutting motions.

Shoulder injuries are also quite common and the labrum (cartilage bumper surrounding the socket part of the shoulder) is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in offensive and defensive linemen. In addition, injuries to the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) or shoulder are seen in football players.


Football players, younger and older, are also more susceptible to concussions (a change in the mental state due to a traumatic impact.) Common signs that a concussion has been sustained are a headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, drowsiness, numbness and/or tingling, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision. If an athlete sustains a concussion, like all injuries, they should return to the field only when clearance is granted by their healthcare professional.

Overuse Injuries:

Low-back pain, or back pain in general, is a fairly common complaint in football players due to overuse, as they are commonly bending and leaning forward. Patellar tendinitis (knee pain) is a common problem that football players develop and can usually be treated by a quadriceps strengthening program.

Heat-Related Injuries:

Heat injuries are a major concern for youth football players, especially at the start of training camp. This usually occurs in August when some of the highest temperatures and humidity of the year occur. Intense physical activity can result in excessive sweating that depletes the body of salt and water. The earliest symptoms are painful cramping of major muscle groups. However, if not treated with body cooling and fluid replacement, this can progress to heat exhaustion and heat stroke — which can even result in death. It is important for football players to be aware of the need for fluid replacement and to inform professional medical staff of symptoms of heat injury.

Helpful Tips to Help Avoid Injury:

  • Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation
  • Perform proper warm-up and cool-down routines
  • Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching
  • Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps
  • Stay active during summer break to prepare for return to sports in the fall
  • Wear properly fitted protective equipment, such as a helmet, pads, and mouthguard
  • Tackle with the head up and do not lead with the helmet Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about football injuries or football injury prevention strategies.

Everyone’s body is different, just like no injury is the same. Therefore, if you or your athlete has been injured in a game it is vital that they be seen by a healthcare professional, and even more beneficial to be seen by a Physical Therapist. SportsCare is known for treating all types of patients, especially Sports-related injuries.

Not only do we offer Physical and Occupational Therapy, but we also have a dedicated world-class Sports Medicine, and Training facility where Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists work hand in hand to deliver the best results for our patients. In any location, our Physical Therapists will be able to help guide an athlete back to playing status, with our dynamic, and individualized treatment plans. To find the nearest SportsCare Physical Therapy center to you, you can either go online or text your zip code to 1-844-700-0013. We’re not just Sports, we’re all about the Care.

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